Rowley is a phenomenally hard-working dog who not only makes Megan’s life easier by helping her with day-to-day tasks but is also credited with saving her life on many occasions.
Rowley’s owner, Megan, says: “When I was 15-years old, I sustained a serious head injury after collapsing during a Remembrance Sunday service, which I was attending with my Explorer Scout Unit. My skull was fractured in multiple places upon impact with the concrete floor and I was left with permanent damage to my hearing, vision, and balance.
“I was later diagnosed with an underlying heart condition known as Neurocardiogenic Syncope (NCS) or Dysautonomia, which is believed to be the cause of my initial collapse. I also developed a complex neurological condition known as FND (Functional Neurological Disorder), which now causes me to experience frequent and unpredictable fainting attacks daily, amongst other debilitating symptoms.
“I noticed that simple tasks such as getting undressed became a struggle — as, every time I bent down, I risked losing my balance. I was also at constant risk of further injury as I was losing consciousness multiple times a day without any warning symptoms and bumping into obstacles due to my vertigo and poor vision. I had lost my independence overnight and was completely devastated.
“I am now 23 years old and it has been eight-and-a-half years since my accident. This was certainly not the life I had planned for myself; but, thanks to my two incredible assistance dogs, Ruby (now retired) and Rowley, I have achieved far more than I ever thought possible!
Jennifer Smith, Fundraising Lead for Dog Assistance in Disability (Dog A.I.D), says: “Rowley is the first-ever Dual-Purpose Assistance Dog trained by Guide Dogs in partnership with Dog A.I.D.
“In less than a year, he has alerted to over 800 medical episodes — that’s 800 potentially life-saving moments. Rowley can alert Megan to an oncoming fainting attack up to seven minutes in advance by using his nose to detect biochemical changes in her body.
“Rowley is also trained to help with practical tasks that are difficult because of her disabilities, such as picking up dropped items, emptying the washing machine, untying my shoelaces, pulling off socks and trousers and so on. He also helps Megan with her visual impairment by guiding her safely around obstacles and locating things she needs, such as the stairs, lift, exit, or a seat.
“Rowley is honestly one of the most switched on and eager dogs we have had the pleasure to train at Dog A.I.D. The difference that Rowley has made to enabling Megan’s day-to-day life is truly remarkable.”
Megan adds: “I am so incredibly grateful to have him by my side keeping me safe. No matter where we are or what we are doing he holds my life so delicately in his paws. He is my best friend, my lifeline, and my independence. I owe him everything!”
If you think Rowley’s hard work means he deserves to win the Healthcare & Assistance Dogs category, putting him in the running for the title of Autarky Hardest Working Dog 2020, then make sure you cast your vote when voting goes live on Monday 23rd March, 2020.